Good palliative care can make all the difference to you and your loved one. Finding out that a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or having to watch them as they deteriorate through a long-standing health condition, can be devastating for relatives. Add to this the worry of how and where they are to be looked after in their final days or weeks and it can be hard to know what to do. After all, you want them to receive the best care possible.

Increasing need for palliative care in the UK

A report commissioned by the Marie Curie organisation covering the period up to the end of 2014 (the latest figures available), found that the need for palliative care in the UK has increased from 63% of all deaths to at least 74% of all deaths. This reflects the fact that an ageing population, living longer lives than ever before, equates to a larger number of people with long-term or complex health conditions requiring end-of-life care.

What is palliative care?

Palliative care is generally delivered according to principles set down by the World Health Organisation and aims to provide support for a person at the end of their life, as well as their family during illness and bereavement. It provides pain relief in a managed way to neither hasten nor postpone death and supports the psychological and spiritual aspects of care to help a patient live as normal a life as possible for as long as possible. This help and support is available in hospitals and hospices but is also available from specially trained live-in carers who live in the home of the elderly person at the end of their life.

Palliative care works alongside any other treatments that may be required in a multi-disciplinary approach. The ultimate aim is to improve the quality of life for elderly people and for their loved ones.

This type of care can be provided for any number of illnesses including:

  • Cancer
  • Motor Neurone Disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease/Dementia
  • Heart or other organ failure
  • Any other form of life-threatening illness which requires extra care

How palliative care works in a person’s own home

Studies have shown that older people do much better when they can remain in their own homes as they get older than when they enter institutional care. Staying in your own home, surrounded by the people and things you love, and receiving professional live-in care offers substantial benefits when it comes to dealing with illness.

For family and friends, having to cope with a loved one who has a terminal illness it is important to know that the people caring for them are suitably experienced and qualified in the field of palliative care. In addition, it is vital to know that carers and nurses looking after your loved one are carrying out their daily tasks with compassion and dedication and that they are working alongside any doctors or other health professionals to ease the burden of illness and provide support both to the person in need of care and to family and friends.

This support not only helps ease some of the emotional distress that family and friends will naturally be experiencing, but it also allows the dying person to receive the best possible care without the added burden of worrying about their loved ones.